Agronomic feasibility of growing Chia in Bangladesh
Chia (Salvia hispanica L) is a very high value medicinal plant belongs to the Lamiaceae family, native to Mexico and Guatemala. It has attracted interest in recent years because the concentration of proteins, lipids, carbohydrates and fibre in seeds is significantly higher than other important grains and cereals such as rice, oats, corn, wheat and barley. In addition Chia proteins lack gluten--being a choice to celiac disease and a good source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Chia contains Omega?3 fatty acids, antioxidants and fibre, which contribute to delay cellular aging and prevent cardiovascular diseases.
Chia is currently cultivated in Australia, Bolivia, Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, and Argentina. It grows naturally in tropical and subtropical environments. It is considered to be a short-day plant and grown between the 20 and 30 latitudes. The plant characterized by low water consumption and well adapted to arid and semiarid regions. These environmental conditions create hopes to grow Chia in Bangladesh as a new crop and would be a source of income for the farmers. Today its value as crop and food is so high that its cultivation and consumption are currently takes place in 30 countries in the world. Chia's demand is increased up to 200 per cent by 2020 and its sales are expected to reach 1.2 billion dollars worldwide.
Chia seed is composed of proteins (15-25per cent), lipids (30-33per cent), fibbers (18-30per cent), carbohydrates (26-41per cent), ashes (4-5per cent), minerals, vitamins. It contains a large number of antioxidants such as beta-carotene, tocopherol, chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid and flavonoids. Another advantage of Chia seed is that it does not contain gluten. The Chia oil has superior quality than other oils such as soybean oil, sunflower oil, rapeseed oil and olive oil as it concentrates higher percentage of fatty ?-linolenic acid.
Asia Pacific area is expected to register the fastest growth rate from 2019 to 2025 on account of increasing product consumption in countries, such as India, China and Japan. Moreover, rising cases of lifestyle diseases, such as diabetes, blood pressure, and asthma, have resulted in increasing demand for healthy snacks, which, in turn, will augment the regional market growth. Ideal for use in restaurants, coffee shops, bakeries, schools, hospitals, cafeterias, and many other food service outlets to prepare pastries, doughnuts, breads, empanadas, sandwiches, cakes, muffins, pays, among many other recipes.
Introduce Chia for its high medicinal value and providing a good source of income to farmers. There is a need to evaluate its cultivation as well as to develop appropriate agronomic management practices for higher growth and yield in Bangladesh. Since the cultivation is highly dependent on the environment to express its maximum agronomic potential, studies are needed to determine the factors that really affect the Chia yield. In this context, Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) has initiated some agronomic management studies to evaluate the feasibility of Chia cultivation in Bangladesh. Considering the worldwide demand, Chia deserves a great attention due to the universal applicability of its products and derivatives.
Dr Dilwar Ahmed Choudhury, Chief Scientific Officer & Head, Agronomy Division, Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute, Gazipur